By Perry Green, AFRO Sports Editor,

Colin Kaepernick dominated headlines last weekend when he posted on Instagram a photo of Jackie Robinson along with a direct quote from the sports icon that read, “I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag. I know that I am a Black man in a White world.”

The post prompted many folks to compare Kaepernick to Robinson, who suffered through the hostile conditions of racism while breaking the color barrier of Major League Baseball during the 1940s. Many people believe Kaepernick is being blacklisted from the NFL after he sparked a trend of demonstrations in the league by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem in protest of racism and police brutality. The sacrifice of his football career perhaps compares to the discrimination Robinson endured during his playing days.

Stephen A. Smith (Screengrab)

But not everyone finds the comparison credible.  ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on his TV show, “First Take” that Kaepernick is not comparable to Robinson, and that he believes the former NFL quarterback more closely mirrors President Donald Trump, an extremely controversial figure in the African-American community.

“He is not comparable to the great Jackie Robinson,” Smith said during a debate with his “First Take” co-host, Max Kellerman. “Jackie Robinson was the man that was responsible for integrating the sport of Major League Baseball. Jackie Robinson was coming up in a time when we were devoid of civil rights, where we couldn’t use the same restaurants or the same bathrooms or we couldn’t patronize the same businesses or the water fountains or anything like that. Jackie Robinson grew up at a time with such alarming hostility that it sparked the Civil Rights Movement—for crying out loud—in certain respects, and there is no question about that.”

Smith went on to criticize Kaepernick for the amount of money he made from the NFL to support his opinion that the quarterback doesn’t compare to Robinson.

“Colin Kaepernick, with all due respect, we appreciate his willingness to bring sensitivity and awareness to racial oppression, racial inequality, police brutality, etc. But this is an NFL player that made in excess of $40 million. This is an NFL player who restructured his deal so that he could opt out a year early because he wanted to sit up there and maximize opportunities that were available to him,” Smith said, before detailing how he thinks Kaepernick compares more to Trump.

“Donald Trump was the former owner for the USFL, who tried to sue the NFL for $1.7 billion,” Smith said. “He won the case, but won a grand total of one dollar. It assisted in ruining the USFL — certainly ruined his chances of ultimately getting what he really wanted which is to own an NFL team because then in 2014, years later when he wanted to own the Buffalo Bills, they still didn’t want him to be a part of their clique. So here you have a White billionaire who wants to become a part of the league and couldn’t get in. Colin Kaepernick can’t get back in.”

Smith also said during an appearance on SiriusXM’s Joe Madison Show that Kaepernick’s exile from the league is “all about the money.”

“If this man had had no effect on their bottom line in their eyes, this would not be an issue. He would be playing,” Smith told Madison. “Because their whole thing would have been, ‘Excuse me, he helped us win and our money’s not compromised? We don’t care….’ But 66 percent of the American population is White. Where are you getting most of your money from if you are the National Football League? Sure you have support from the Black community, the Latino community, etc. but, for the most part you’re getting it from a lot of White folks here. Just a numbers game here. So, ultimately you put them in the position where they have to make a choice based on numbers.”


Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor